Billfishing Brilliance
  |  First Published: November 2012

Well there has been no shortage of fishing action happening in the Weipa area during the past month and will no doubt continue through November.

At the top of the list has to be the recent success of the 2012 Weipa Billfish Tournament. While there have been plenty of billfish taken over the past 12 months off Weipa there is nothing like a tournament to really find out what’s in an area. Eleven boats fished off Weipa for three days in beautiful Gulf of Carpentaria conditions. A total of 31 billfish were caught and released comprising of 24 sailfish and 7 black marlin, an estimated 50 plus fish were raised for the event. Champion team was Tag Team skippered by Weipa local Darren Lees for 8 fish tagged. All boats saw some form of action over the three days with plenty of smiles and stories told at the presentation night on the last day. Without a doubt it was a huge success and will start to put Weipa on the map for yet another style of fishing in what is already a hugely diverse fishery.

I had to work over the weekend of the comp but managed to have a day out wide chasing a few billies the day prior. My wife Casey, sister Jaime and good Mate Jason Stelling made up the crew aboard my 6m centre console Cyclone. A leisurely start saw us skipping and swimming a few gar alongside the teaser in 90 feet of water. As anyone who has done any amount of gamefishing would know, it really is a waiting game. So while the girls chatted away Stello and I rigged some baits and kept an eye out for action.

The first bite didn’t take long and really came out of the blue. I turned to look at the riggers and noticed line flying off the bail of one of the spin reels. Casey leapt into action grabbed the rod, shut the bail, set the hook and came up solid.

With overcast conditions and plenty of chop on the water none of us had any idea what had smashed the gar and after one of the most sizzling runs I have ever seen on a 4500 spin reel, a beautiful black marlin of around 140lb took to the air. Without going into too much detail the fish put up a great fight, and Casey did really well bringing the fish boatside in 35 minutes on 30lb tackle in trying conditions.

After a few snaps boatside the hook was removed and we were underway again with the girls cracking a bottle of Champaign to toast Casey’s first marlin capture.

The celebrations were short lived however as Jaime, who was now on strike, spotted a sail up on the teaser. Under instruction she grabbed the nearest rod and fed a rigged gar into the face of the now very excited sail. Without hesitation it grabbed the gar, she fed it some line, then set the hook for a solid hook-up. It was a good sized sailfish for the area at around 25kg and put up a great fight leaving the water on several occasions. Bringing it boatside we removed the hook and bought it onboard for a quick photo before swimming it for release. Everyone was stoked and the girls wasted no time in toasting Jaime’s first sailfish and all before 11am.

No more fish were sighted for the day so we worked our way home but not before Stello managed to land a nice sized cobia and Spaniard, which we kept for the table.

In other areas the bottom fishing continues to fire with those keen for an early start and even doing overnighters reaping the rewards of a bit of effort. Fingermark become active throughout October and November in both the estuaries and offshore and are making up the bulk of the reef fishing captures. In the estuaries they can be found in deeper holes, around rockbars, shell grit bars and big snags adjacent to deep water. Live mud herring are seldom passed up by fingermark with 5” Gulp Jerkshads a proven performer for those who prefer the artificials.

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